Monday, August 30, 2010

who is your neighbor?

"christ told us how to survive when he answered the question, who is my neighbor? in the tenth chapter of luke he tells the story of a samaritan who care for a jew who had been badly wounded by thieves. as we know from the precedign chapter, in which the disciples suggest in effect the firebombing of a samaritan village, the smaritans and the jews were enemies. to modernize the story, then, and so to understand christ's answer, we may substitute any other pair of enemies: fundamentalist christian and fundamentalist muslin, palestinian and israeli, captor and prisoner. the answer: your neighbor is any sufferer who needs your help.

~ wendell berry

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

so . . . what's next?

so as most of you that read this, if you still read this, know that i work with students.

well, its getting close to that time of year. close to that time of year where seniors begin to get asked that ever important and very annoying and i think wrong question; what are you plans? what's next? what are you going to plan on doing with your life?

however you want to word that question, i still am not a fan of it. i've been out of high school almost 10 years, out of college 4 years. i have no idea what i really want to do with the rest of my life. why do we expect 17, 18, 19, 23 year olds to know the answer to that question?

maybe i hate that question or those questions because i think they are the wrong questions to ask. to be very frank, i don't give a rip what you plan on doing 10 or 15 years down the road. i probably don't even care what i'm going to be doing 10 or 15 years from now.

now i do understand that i am guilty of asking students that question myself. i understand that. but i think i've come to a point to where i want and need to stop asking that question of myself and of high school seniors and senior citizens and anyone in between

i think a better question to ask is what are you doing right now? who cares about what we have planned 10 years from now, we may not be here 10 minutes from here. we've not been guaranteed tomorrow, we've heard this before, but we sure as hell don't live like we've heard it. i know i don't. i live like i have the next 40 years to do whatever i want. there is no longer any urgency to tell people about Jesus and His love for us. i'm as guilty as anyone.

now i'm not saying that we don't need to plan and try to figure out things. but i don't think we need to place the importance that we do on those questions and those ideals. is it not more important to follow God and listen to the Spirit now, then to figure out what happens 10 years from now.

you can read all through the Scriptures and see how individuals, groups of people, nations, they didn't care so much about the destination, how long it would take to get there, the rewards or the costs of the trip, if they had enough in savings, if they were able to buy the newest "cool" thing, if they had health insurance, if they had a 401 k, they didn't care about those things. we seem to give those things the title of of being "vitally important details." but what was important to these individuals that we find in Scripture that lived this way was that they just followed. they went.

we invite Jesus to come along for the ride we call "life" with us and ask Him to join us instead of going where He has already commanded us and doing the things He has already asked us to do.

francis chan says this; "A lot of us need to forget about God's will for my life. God cares more about our response to His Spirit's leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year. In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today's decisions."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Called Out of Darkness

This is an excerpt from Advent and Christmas with Thomas Merton. This is a book I started reading November 29th and it has a reading for each day leading up to Christ's birth and a pray to go together with it for every day.

"Every baptized Christian is obliged by his baptismal promises to renounce since and to give himself completely, without compromise, to Christ, in order that he may fulfill his vocation, save his soul, enter into the mystery of God, and there find himself perfectly 'in light of Christ.'

As Saint Paul reminds us (1 Corinthians 6:19), we are 'not our own.' We belong entirely to Christ. His spirit has taken possession of us at baptism. We are the Temples of the Holy Spirit. Our thoughts, our actions, our desires, are by rights more his than our own. But we have to struggle to ensure that God always receives from us what we owe him by right.

O Lord, awake us from the comfortable existence in which we to often may be safely cocooned, and challenge us to accept the call of our baptism. Afflict us with yoru grace so that we take seriously our efforts to aid the poor, to comfort the sad and lonely, to let our light shine as a beacon to all who may need our help. Allow us to serve also as a wake-up call to our brothers and sisters whose companionship in Christ we share. Amen."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

there was evening and then there was morning

so i'm working my way through the book of genesis with a friend of mine and i've been working/wrestling/reading/studying/listening to sermons and so on, on the genesis for a while now.

this morning as we were studying and discussing it, and we only made it to day 2 this morning, but we noticed something that i had never picked up on and had just skimmed over it all the other times i had read genesis 1.

vs 5 - "God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, a first day." (Jewish Study Bible)

Nothing out of the ordinary if you were to just read it and move right along you're merry way.

what caught us off guard was that he mentions, after he names them "Day" and "Night", he then says that there was "evening and there was morning".

he mentions evening and then morning. i wonder if that maybe means that God starts his day off with rest. i seem to find myself saying that i start my day off with morning, with light, with the "morning", but it caused me to see a new side of "rest" of maybe "sabbath."

maybe my day is out of balance if i don't start out with rest, if i don't see that i start my day off in rest.

this then caused my mind to run to the book of psalms where chapter 62 talks about resting in God.
62:1 - "Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him."

62:5-8 - "Yes, my soul finds rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress. I will not be shaken. My salvation and honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."

maybe we need to find rest first, before any more of our creative process begin to happen. maybe we need to find rest, find "evening" in our own lives, before we can find the "morning", before we begin to be about the creative process of restoring all things back to Jesus. reconciling all things back to Jesus. maybe we first need to find rest.

this may not be huge, it may just be a shift in my thought process of how i start my day off, not with the morning, but with rest. rest in God. rest in knowing that my salvation comes from him, being Jesus. rest in God being my refuge. rest in my hope that i have in him.

so may i, may we, find rest in God. may we begin with "evening" and then "morning" can happen.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

i'm tired

i'm tired.

i feel like my mind is in a constant state of training for a marathon. with working at a church and having such a love for christ's bride and believing in the church, i feel like my mind never stops thinking about where the church is today compared to what jesus had in mind for the church to be. (and i have no idea what it's really supposed to look like really, i'm trying to figure that out)

and so i'm tired.

i'm tired of thinking about it. i'm tired of talking about it. i'm tired of reading about it. i'm tired of having numerous conversations about what the church should be doing and what the church is or isn't doing. i'm tired of complaining about church and hearing complaints about the church. i'm tired.

with being in student ministry, i've been wrestling a lot of the last several months over why i'm not seeing students put things into practice. some might tell me that they've changed their thought process . . . and thats great. some might say that they start to see people in a new way and a more loving way . . . thats great too.

but i want to see a change in the way they act. i want to see a change in the things they are doing. i want to see them really start to live it.

but i've become frustrated that i haven't seen that.

and what i've come to realize is that i'm frustrated in that i don't see those same things in my life either. and i think part of that, not all because there comes personal responsibility and i'm an adult so i take full responsibility, but i part of that is because i don't see that in most adults around me and so i haven't been invested in or shown the way or the ropes of how to do those things. very frustrating but as i've said, i'm tired. i'm tired of having that as my excuse. i'm ready to start changing the system and not pass those same things that were passed onto to the next generation.

so what i've come conclude is this; i'm just going to start doing. i'm going to start to do those things i want to see happen in students. i'm going to start to do those things i want to see the church start to do.

some of the things i'm beginning to work on (and i say these things in no way to boast, just to let you know where and what i'm doing) are things like mentoring students within the student ministry. and not just in a "small group" but on a 1 on 1 basis, really investing in students lives and giving of myself to the students.

i also long to see discipleship happen in the church, in my life and in student ministry. so, with the last thing, i've also asked another guy that i highly respect as a father, friend, human being and follower of jesus to mentor and invest in me as well. i think we need to have this happen more often to where we invest in each other much more on a personal level.

i've also started to work with another church/non-profit in town to really help out with an after-school program and a "homework buddy" program and invest myself in students that need love. this could open up an endless world of possibilities as to what could come from this.

i'm also getting our student small groups plugged into the community through habitat for humanity, operation love (local food bank/clothing give away), the christian center (local mens center), local elementary schools to provide school supplies and whatever else they need in some of our "inner city" schools and i'm sure many more things to come.

and all the while . . . i'm asking people to join me. when jesus was asked if he was really the messiah, his response was basically, why don't you come and see, why don't you taste for yourself and see with your own eyes. and so i'm going to ask students, friends and anyone else who wants to come, to come and see if this jesus is real, to taste and see with your own eyes.

i'm tired of simply talking about jesus.

Monday, September 14, 2009


i came across this little gem this morning as i was cleaning off some files on my computer and this puppy is staying on here thats for sure . . . this was about 8 minutes before we had to go out and stand on stage for my wedding . . . the girls rushing around getting last minute make-up on or just rushing for no reason . . . we got a 1 song concert . . . this makes me smile and laugh every time i watch it . . . it never gets old.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

dangerous wonder

i've had this book sitting on my shelf for several years now and just never really paid much attention to it and thought, "i should probably read that."

i had finished a couple of books i had been reading and so i was looking for another one to pick up and read, but i wanted something not so heady, if you know what i mean. i didn't want something that was going to cause my brain to hurt and to where i would have to read it over 2 times to fully understand it.

i had read a book a few years ago called messy spirituality, and liked that book, so i thought i'd pick this book off the shelf called dangerous wonder. thinking, that could be a good read, a few weeks before this i had a friend mention it in passing that it was a good book so i thought, hey why not.

well what i have found is that it certainly isn't causing my brain to hurt. this book has found its way straight to my heart. it's kicking my tail with pushing, encouraging and challenging me to pursue after those passions in my heart and those dreams, because they come from someone, they've been placed there for a reason.

it talks about getting out and living this faith out, even to what most people would call "extreme", but to jesus, its just following after him. it talks about reclaiming that dangerous wonder that we all had as a kid. when you are so terrified in a situation, but are just filled with awe and excitement. shouldn't that be how following jesus is? we're so scared cause we don't know what's going to happen next or where we're going to go, but in awe of how God has taken care of us and provided for us and just filled with excitement to see what's next.

so with that, i just want to provide you with several quotes from the book. this is a definite recommendation coming from me for you to go out and read the book.

"every day i want to be in the dangerous proximity to jesus. i long for a life that explodes with meaning and is filled with adventure, wonder, risk and danger. i long for a faith that is gloriously treacherous. i want to be with jesus, not knowing whether to cry or laugh."

"the critical issue today is dullness. we have lost our astonishment. the good news is no longer good news, its okay news. christianity is no longer life changing, it is life enhancing. jesus doesn't change people into wild-eyed radicals anymore. he changes them into 'nice people.' if christianity is about being nice, i'm not interested."

"i'm ready for a christianity that 'ruins' my life, that captures my heart and makes me uncomfortable. . . i want to be 'dangerous' to a dull and boring religion."

"the greatest enemy of christianity may be people who say they believe in jesus but who are no longer astonished and amazed . . . we have forgotten how to dance, how to sing, and how to laugh. we have allowed technology to beat our imaginations into submissions and have become tourists rather than travelers. we have been stunted by mediocrity."

"most of us act as if it is more important to make a living than to live. financial security is much more valued than the insecurity of following christ . . . well-meaning christians would advise fellow christians to seek financial security. seek christ, yes, but don't be foolhardy, don't be silly, don't be childish. find a good job. you can serve god and still work for a standard of living that reflects the economic realities of today."

"our world is populated with domesticated grownups who wold rather settle for safe, predictable answers instead of wild, unpredictable mystery. faith has been reduced to a comfortable system of beliefs about god instead of an uncomfortable encounter with god."

"the church should be full of christians who seek questions rather than answers, mystery instead of solutions, wonder instead of explanations."

"the living jesus is a problem in our religious institutions. yes. because if you are having a funeral, a nice funeral, and the dead person starts to move, there goes the funeral! and, dear brothers and sisters, jesus is moving!"

"every time the disciples starting establishing rules - no children near jesus; don't let the crowd touch jesus; don't talk to samaritan women . . . jesus told them to knock if off . . . we are substituting religious rules with me! jesus kept saying 'follow me' not 'follow my rules.' so most of us have spent our christian lives learning what we can't do instead of celebrating what we can do in jesus. . . it was jesus who taught us how to break the rules. it was jesus who touched the lepers, against the rules . . . it was jesus who broke the sabbath, against the rules . . . it was jesus who forgave people of their sins, against the rules."

"the christian life is more than finding jesus - it is following jesus."